Tag Archives: Landmark

Richard Branson finished his historic venture onboard his own rocket-powered plane in a landmark moment for the commercial space industry

Branson -— along with Virgin Galactic employees Beth Moses, Colin Bennett, and Sirisha Bandla and pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci — boarded the SpaceShipTwo, a winged plane with a single rocket motor that the company has spent nearly two decades developing, before the crack of dawn. Attached beneath its massive, twin-fuselaged mothership, dubbed WhiteKnightTwo, the vehicle took to the skies at 8:30 am MT and climbed to about 50,000 feet in the air.
Just after 9:15 in the morning, the SpaceShipTwo detached from its mothership and dropped momentarily before its engine screamed to life and the vehicle swooped upward. On board, the passengers experienced up to three Gs of force from the burst of extreme acceleration and watched the blue sky fade into the star-speckled darkness of outer space. At the top of the flight path, more than 50 miles high, the vehicle was suspended in weightlessness for a few minutes, allowing the passengers to enjoy panoramic views of the Earth and space as SpaceShipTwo flipped onto its belly. It then deployed its feathering system, which curls the plane’s wings upward, mimicking the shape of a badminton shuttlecock, to turn the spaceship rightward as it flew back into the Earth’s thick atmosphere and glided back down to a runway landing.
Virgin Galactic spaceplane VSS Unity rockets to outer space, with Richard Branson and crew onboard.
As Branson floated around in microgravity, he taped a message using cameras onboard the space plane: “To all you kids out there — I was once a child with a dream, looking up to the stars. Now I’m an adult in a spaceship…If we can do this, just imagine what you can do,” he said.
This flight marked only the fourth test flight of the vehicle that reached the edge of space.
Surrounding SpaceShipTwo’s takeoff was — in typical Branson fashion -— a high-production party with friends, family, employees and a few VIPs in attendance. Earlier on Sunday, Branson tweeted a picture of himself and a barefoot Elon Musk hanging out. Grammy-nominated artist Khalid is also expected to perform an as-yet-unreleased song on an outdoor stage.

What this means

Branson’s flight — which came just nine days before Amazon bilionaire Jeff Bezos is slated to rocket into suborbital space aboard his own company’s spacecraft — is a landmark moment for the commercial space industry. The up-and-coming sector has for years been seeking to make suborbital space tourism (a relatively simple straight-up-and-down flight, as opposed to orbiting the Earth for longer periods) a viable business with the aim of allowing thousands of people to experience the adrenaline rush and sweeping views of our home planet that such flights can offer.
Branson and Bezos are situated to become direct competitors in that industry, each offering tickets to wealthy customers for brief rides to the upper atmosphere aboard supersonic, rocket-powered spacecraft.
Virgin Galactic plans to conduct just one more test flight before it will begin flying paying customers. More than 600 people have reserved tickets priced at $ 200,000 to $ 250,000 so far. The company is expected to reopen ticket sales soon, though at a higher price point.
Branson’s flight also helps bolster Virgin Galactic’s reputation as the “world’s first commercial spaceline.” That’s how the company advertised itself as it signed up those hundreds of willing customers who’ve waited through development delays — and a tragic mishap — for their chance to ride aboard SpaceShipTwo.
But whether or not Virgin Galactic will really be the “first” commercially operational suborbital space company is not yet clear. Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin, appeared poised to put its founder in space before Branson, until Virgin Galactic made the surprise announcement earlier this month that he would be on the very next test flight, a departure from the company’s earlier plans.
Bezos’ flight, slated for July 20, could kick off the company’s commercial operations sooner than that, and one of his fellow passengers on the flight is a paying customer, having won a ticket through a charity auction for the price of $ 28 million. The company has not yet begun selling tickets to the public, however, nor has it set a specific date for when it plans to do so.
Neither company is expected to offer tickets that are affordable to the average American. Branson did tease a big “announcement” about his effort to “democratize space” ahead of the flight. But he revealed Sunday only that Virgin Galactic would be holding a “sweepstakes” for two free tickets, along with a tour of the facility from the winners from Branson himself.

How Virgin Galactic got here

Virgin Galactic moved into its facilities in New Mexico in May 2019 after years of delay. The glitzy building, called Spaceport America, was paid for with more than $ 200 million in mostly taxpayer money, and it had been waiting nearly a decade for Virgin Galactic to move in and open for business.
The company refurbished the building to include a lounge and other amenities that ticket holders will be able to use before their brief journey to the edge of space.
Virgin Galactic’s development program has endured a series of setbacks, including a catastrophic accident during a test flight in 2014 that left a co-pilot dead and the pilot badly injured after the SpaceShipTwo’s feathering system was prematurely deployed, ripping the spacecraft apart. The company has since parted ways with its manufacturing partner and says it has worked to enhance SpaceShipTwo with additional automated safeguards.
Branson said ahead of Sunday’s test flight that he was anxious to join the pilots and test engineers who’ve already flown on SpaceShipTwo because he felt it demonstrated a crucial vote of confidence.
Richard Branson receives some cards from children as he walks out from Spaceport America, near Truth and Consequences, New Mexico on July 11, 2021.
“You’ve got to remember that Virgin Galactic has people on every spaceflight… The fact that I’m willing to fly with those people shows confidence,” Branson told CNN Business’ Rachel Crane earlier this month. “I think the least the founder of the company can do is go up there and fly with his people.”

UFO BOMBSHELL: US to release landmark report – military pilots to lift lid on mystery

She said: “We take reports of incursions into our airspace – by any aircraft, identified or unidentified – very seriously, and investigate each one.”

On Wednesday last week, several members of Congress were given a confidential briefing on the anticipated report.

Experts have been speculating the reports’ contents for over a month but have warned elements of the document may remain classified for security and counterintelligence reasons.

In April, footage of UAPs and UFOs taken by US Navy Pilots was declassified by the Pentagon.

Speaking to Reuters this week, Alex Dietrich, a retired U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander, urged the public to keep an open mind about the topic and to report what they see even if they don’t fully understand it.

The fighter pilot was among several aviators from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz involved in a 2004 encounter off California’s coast with unknown aircraft described as resembling large “Tic Tac” breath mints.

She said the phenomena she saw lacked “any visible flight control surfaces or means of propulsion.”

Ms Dietrich said her higher ups took the event seriously as her account of the incident was “analyzed in a professional, sober way” by the military chain of command.

READ MORE: Giant ‘mega-comet’ is making its way through the solar system

To help eliminate the stigma surrounding the mysterious phenomena she urged the public to “speak up, even if they don’t know what they saw.”

“I’m trying to normalize it by talking about it,” she said, adding: “I hope I’m not the ‘UFO, Tic Tac person’ for the rest of my life.”

Earlier this month, Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, told the New York Post: “We take the issue of unexplained aerial phenomena seriously to the extent that we’re dealing with the safety and security of US military personnel or the national security interests of the United States, so we want to know what we’re dealing with.

“I think it’s important to understand that there are legitimate questions involving the safety and security of our personnel, and in our operations and in our sensitive activities, and we all know that there’s [a] proliferation of technologies out there.

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“We need to understand the space a little bit better.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Weird Feed

Saturday was the 53rd anniversary of 'Loving Day', celebrating landmark interracial marriage ruling

MILFORD, Virgina — On June 12, 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down 16 state bans on interracial marriage as unconstitutional. The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and Black woman who had been jailed for being married to each other.

After the court’s decision, the Lovings lived quietly in their native Virginia with their three children until Richard Loving’s death in a 1975 car crash. Mildred Loving, critically injured in that same crash, never remarried and largely shunned publicity.

She granted a rare interview to The Associated Press in 2007, the 40th anniversary of her legal victory, and died the following year.

In observance of the 50th anniversary of the landmark Loving decision, The Associated Press is republishing its last interview with Mildred Loving, by reporter Dionne Walker.

SEE ALSO: Interracial family outraged after receiving threats in their new home

Reporters no longer beat a path to the modest white house just over the Caroline County border – and that’s fine with its owner, a soft-spoken 67-year-old who never wanted the fame that her marriage brought her.

Born Mildred Jeter, she’s mostly known by the name she took when she – a Black woman living in segregated Virginia – dared to break the rules by marrying a white man named Richard Loving.

The union landed the Lovings in jail, and then before the U.S. Supreme Court, and finally in the history books; 40 years ago Tuesday, the court ruled in favor of the couple, overturning laws prohibiting interracial unions and changing the face of America.

Mildred Loving is a matriarch to thousands of mixed couples now sprinkled in every city. But she hardly considers herself a hero – just a girl who once fell in love with a boy.

“It wasn’t my doing,” Loving told The Associated Press, in a rare interview. “It was God’s work.”

SEE ALSO: Councilman’s opposition to interracial marriage leads to his resignation

While the rest of the Jim Crow South struggled to divide the races in the early ’50s, Blacks and whites in tiny Central Point had long been intertwined. They worked together on farms, raising chickens and tobacco. And often, they were intimate, explained Edward Clarke, who grew up in the town an hour outside Richmond, today little more than vast fields, ragtag homes and weed-choked farm houses.

Standing in the hilly cemetery which Richard Loving is buried, he swept his hand out over the markers reading Jeter, Byrd and Fortune – Black folks, he explained, many so pale they could pass for white.

“The white people were just like the Black people,” said Clarke, a Black man. “You lived and survived … it was a sharing thing.”

It was in this setting that a skinny 11-year-old nicknamed “Bean” met a 17-year-old boy who was a family friend, according to Phyl Newbeck, a Vermont author who detailed the case in the 2004 book, “Virginia Hasn’t Always Been for Lovers.”

Over the years, friendship led to courtship – but their relationship took an abrupt turn when an 18-year-old Mildred became pregnant.

“We’re talking the early ’50s, when an illegitimate child was far more of a stigma,” Newbeck said. “I don’t think Richard wanted her to have to bear that.”

And so, they drove some 80 miles to Washington, D.C., in 1958, married and returned to Central Point to start a new life.

“I think he thought (if) we were married, they couldn’t bother us,” Mildred said.

Within a month, they were in jail.

Now 84, then-Sheriff Garnett Brooks vividly recalls bursting into the Lovings’ home at 2 a.m., rousing the couple out of their sleep and hauling them off to face the law. Word of their marriage – nobody’s sure who complained – had reached the commonwealth’s attorney.

“He told me to go and check on them and if they are (married), arrest them,” said Brooks, who insists the case wasn’t about race but about illegal cohabitation. “I told him I’d be glad to do it.”

A 28-year-old Phil Hirschkop was just a few months out of law school when he overheard a professor discussing the Lovings with another lawyer, Bernard Cohen.

It was 1964, and the Lovings had spent the past few years living in exile in Washington after being convicted on charges of “cohabitating as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth,” according to their indictments. Laws banning racially mixed marriages existed in at least 17 states.

The couple had avoided a year in jail by agreeing to a sentencing mandating, “both accused leave Caroline County and the state of Virginia at once, and do not return together or at the same time to said county and state for a period of 25 years.”

They got around it, recalls University of Georgia professor and family friend Robert Pratt, by riding back in separate cars and meeting up.

The frustrated young wife had written to then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who referred her to the ACLU for help returning to their Virginia home permanently. Cohen filed a motion to vacate the 1959 sentence against the couple, but hit a dead end when the courts refused to respond.

American courts had proven tough on race-mixing in the past: A handful of cases similar to the Lovings’ had come up before in other places, but were stuck in a thicket of state-sanctioned racism and red tape.

But lawmakers had just passed the Civil Rights Act, and across the South, Blacks were defying Jim Crows’ hold.

Hirschkop was convinced the Supreme Court was ready for change, too – but the right case had to come before the justices, free of any legal loopholes the state could seize upon. The Lovings presented such a case.

Hirschkop argued that the laws must treat each citizen equally, and that “when a law is based on race, it is immediately suspect and the burden is shifted to the state to show there is a compelling interest to have that sort of racial differentiation.”

On June 12, 1967, the court agreed.

“The country was ready, the Supreme Court was ready …” Hirschkop said. “They were going to do the right thing.”

Richard, by all accounts a stoic, blue-collar man content to let Mildred do the talking, moved his family into a small house on Passing Road, and tried to live happily ever after.

That ended when a drunken driver struck their car in 1975, killing Richard and costing Mildred her right eye. The small cemetery where he is buried is just a few minutes from their home.

Over the years, Mildred has granted few interviews, letting others tell her story through books, articles and a Showtime film, “Mr. and Mrs. Loving.”

“Not much of it was very true,” she said on a recent Thursday afternoon. “The only part of it right was I had three children.”

Her hands are curled by arthritis and her right eye is just a lidded hollow now. Still, Mildred’s face lights up as she talks about Richard. She thinks about him every day.

Each June 12, Loving Day events around the country mark the advances of mixed-race couples. Mildred doesn’t pay much attention to the grassroots celebrations.

Mostly she spends time enjoying her family, two dogs, and the countryside she fought so fiercely to again call home.

She wishes her husband was there to enjoy it with her.

“He used to take care of me,” said Mildred Loving. “He was my support, he was my rock.”

Video above is from previous post.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Author: AP

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Drivers set to save billions of pounds on car insurance after landmark ruling

“It is likely that firms will no longer offer unsustainably low-priced deals to some customers.

“However, the FCA estimates that these measures will save consumers £4.2bn over 10 years, by removing the loyalty penalty and making the market work better.”

The new rules will also make it easier for consumers to cancel automatic renewals of their policies and force insurance firms to do more to consider how they offer fair value to customers.

Sheldon Mills, executive director for consumers and competition at the FCA, said: “These measures will put an end to the very high prices paid by many loyal customers.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Life and Style Feed
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San Francisco Makes Home of Lesbian Couple a Landmark

The home of the first same-sex couple to legally marry in California will become a historical landmark, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors ruled this week.

On Tuesday, the city’s supervisors voted unanimously to grant landmark designation for the home owned by the couple, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, who are both lesbian activists and co-founders of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian rights organization in the United States.

The board will review the measure again on May 11 before sending it to the city’s mayor, London Breed, for approval.

Ms. Lyon and Ms. Martin purchased the home, along with the vacant lot next to it, in 1955 and moved in together at the one-bedroom house nestled on a hilltop in the Noe Valley neighborhood.

The approximately 800-square-foot home was an integral meeting place for the Daughters of Bilitis and for social events within the lesbian community, according to Donna J. Graves and Shayne E. Watson, two historians who wrote a city-planning document in 2015 for San Francisco on its L.G.B.T.Q. history.

“Especially in the early years of lesbian organizing, it was in the homes that people met and got to know each other and organized,” Ms. Graves, a public historian, said.

Ms. Lyon and Ms. Martin also worked in their community, pushing for medical care sites for L.G.B.T.Q. people and, with Glide Memorial Church, advocating on behalf of homeless L.G.B.T.Q. youth.

Ms. Lyon and Ms. Martin were editors of the Daughters of Bilitis’ publication, The Ladder, and they used their home as their work space. In 1972, their book “Lesbian/Woman” was published and has since become regarded as a fundamental text on lesbian feminism.

A home or building receiving local landmark designation tends to have more weight compared with those that have national distinctions, Ms. Graves said.

“Local landmark status is the designation that has the most protection, teeth so to say, of any level of preservation designation,” Ms. Graves said, noting that the status affects potential alterations and reviews. “The national register, in some ways, is more honorific.”

After Ms. Lyon’s death last year, the home was left to Ms. Martin’s daughter Kendra, The San Francisco Chronicle reported, and it was eventually sold to a new owner. The current owner of the home did not return a request for comment.

Ms. Watson, an architectural historian, said when she learned in September that the home was sold, she wanted to do something to ensure it was historically preserved. (In 2012, she met Ms. Lyon at an event and later proposed nominating her home for the National Register for Historic Places. Ms. Lyon turned down the offer at the time, she said.)

Terry Beswick, the executive director of the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco, said Ms. Lyon and Ms. Martin were considered “iconic figures” to activists like himself and others who came up in the 1980s and ’90s.

“I’m just really glad that we’re making this sort of permanent recognition of them,” he said.

Ms. Lyon and Ms. Martin met at a construction trade journal in Seattle after Ms. Lyon moved to Washington State in 1949. They started dating, and in 1953 they moved together into an apartment in San Francisco.

They first had a wedding in 2004, when the mayor at the time, Gavin Newsom, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Their marriage was later invalidated, however, because of a ruling from the California Supreme Court that voided Mr. Newsom’s decision.

It wasn’t until May 2008, when the state court declared same-sex marriage legal, that Ms. Lyon and Ms. Martin, together for more than half a century, were able to marry officially. They married in June of that year at San Francisco City Hall, with Mr. Newsom again officiating. Ms. Martin died in August 2008, at age 87, and Ms. Lyon died in April 2020 at 95.

Pending official landmark status, Mr. Beswick said he would like to see the couple’s home become a sort of residency space for graduate students.

“You really can’t overstate the impact they’ve had on so many causes,” Mr. Beswick said of Ms. Lyon and Ms. Martin.

He and some community members, including Ms. Watson, would like to see the home become a hub for lesbian history, women’s rights and social justice activism in the spirit of Ms. Lyon and Ms. Martin.

“I want this house to continue the work that was being done there from 1955 to 2020,” Ms. Watson said.

Mayor Breed’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Author: Allyson Waller
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News